If not now, when?

One American woman. Twenty acres and a 1650 farmhouse in Tuscany. Random introspection and hilarity, depending on the day.

06 October 2006


This is Maxi, playing a stoic Goliath to the cricket's David, last year. You wouldn't recognize him anymore, except for the scars on his ear.

After nearly a month of nursing, and repeated trips to the (cute bad boy) vet, I knew without a doubt this week that we were at the end.

I had traded messages with The Diplomat & Renaissance Artist; "we have no other choices." In return, they left me a message telling me that I should put him to sleep, that they understood, that it was okay, that it was their decision. I could hear it in their voices: the absolution.

Putting down your own pet is unspeakably hard. Putting down someone else's is strangely harder, in some ways. Fewer memories but more pressure. They - thousands of miles away - were relying on my judgement.

Is it really that bad? (I asked myself).
Am I just not a pet person?
Am I not patient enough?
Will he somehow rally through this?

But when you know, you know.
And you swallow hard.
And you do what has to be done, even if it's not what you signed up for.

And tonight, I received an amazing gift.

Maxi died quietly, after a last nuzzle of my hand, sitting in the passenger seat of the car, on the way to the appointment with the vet.

I had learned the Italian word for "put to sleep," but didn't need to use it. When I arrived at the vet, he was already gone.

On his own terms.
In his own way; quietly telling me that I was right.
He couldn't do it anymore.

And so, with tears streaming down my face, I took him inside. Because we had come this far. Because I needed confirmation. Because... that was what we had set out to do, Maxi and I. He just held the trump card.

Observing his limpness, the doctor confirmed it: Lui gia e' morto. (He's already dead).

Go on your own terms.

It's what we all want.

And failing that, have someone who is willing to help.

Maxi: short for Massimiliano.
Maxi: stoic and quiet, reticent. Once he trusted you, he was a gentle, loyal, loving beast of a once-wild cat.

He wasn't mine.
And yet, is anything ever really "ours"?
He belonged to the house, to the land, to two men who loved him dearly.

To love is to eventually lose. And it's still worth it.
He'll be missed around these parts.

Vai, Maxi. Ti voglio bene.


Blogger michele said...

Oh, if only every one of God's creatures could have the luxury of an end like Maxi... on his own terms, and with someone who loved him.

A moving story, Viaggatore...

2:20 AM  
Blogger I'm Just a Girl said...

I'm so sorry, V....you know what a cat lover I am, too. He was a beautiful animal.

4:58 AM  
Anonymous Judith in Umbria said...

Ehi! Merda brutta!
Sorry, that was really a tough call. Poor ole Max.

10:42 AM  
Anonymous field salad said...

Your story about Maxi hit a very personal note for me, who had to make the very same decision for our 18 year old cat, Vivaldi, last month. You're very right...to love is to lose and strangely it's still very much worth it.

2:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maxi is with Ping! Meow!

9:45 PM  
Anonymous elle said...

Damn you for making me cry.

2:47 AM  
Blogger tallulah said...

I've had to put two pets down in the past three months. It is so, so sad when you and your pet know that the time has come.
I am sorry.

5:38 AM  
Blogger Tina said...

Poor Maxi :-( But, he went on his own terms and now he's in kitty-heaven with all the crickets, mice and birds a cat could ask for.

This makes me miss my cat, Louise, so much - she's alive and well, and back in Seattle with my family.

12:35 PM  

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